QUESTIONS YOU DIDN’T KNOW YOU SHOULD ASK

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So phase one of the project which began with the question “What difference would it make if we never died?” has come to an end. Meanwhile, the question has changed several times and has been joined by many more, during a process of searching for “answers you can’t find on your own” and “questions you didn’t know you should ask” – phrases used yesterday by Rosamund Scott at the LABTEC event in Brighton, to neatly describe the benefits of interdisciplinary research and collaboration. The ongoing challenge for me now is how to bring some of those questions to the surface by drawing together a collection of art and artists for The New Immortals exhibition at Phoenix Brighton next spring.

While reflecting on what has been achieved during the first phase of the project it seemed like a good idea to make a list. I like lists. Here are a few items from my list of good things which happened during phase one of the project:

I visited museums and galleries in Cardiff, Liverpool, Manchester, Folkestone, Sheffield, London and Cambridge, looking at places, spaces, art and artifacts and learning all the time.

I got to know so very many interesting people including (in no particular order) artists, scientists, ethicists, Transhumanists, Christians, students, gerontologists, doctors, philosophers and a mouse-keeper.

More than 80 people came along to four events and talked about everything from assisted dying and visions of the afterlife to the sad loss to the world of Freddie Mercury.

Over 170 artists submitted work to be considered for the exhibition and some of them will work with me towards production of The New Immortals exhibition.

Film-maker Sam Sharples worked with me to help me start to develop three new short films for the exhibition.

Five, yes FIVE sketchbook/workbooks are gradually filling up with names, ideas, mind-maps, lists, cuttings, notes, timetables, scribbled budgets, sums and even a few drawings.

The beginning of phase two is a time of slight anxiety, while I wait to hear news of funding applications for the exhibition and the events programme which will be such an important part of the project. Meanwhile, I’m making some new collage work and some New Immortals stickers, badges and booklets to sell as part of a crowdfunding campaign and sale of work next month. Look out for news of that coming soon…

…and in case you’re wondering about the pics at the top of the page, I’ve been enjoying Stephen Cave‘s book, Immortality, and have become interested in his theory that now, in the 21st century, human faith in a god is slowly being replaced by our faith in science, so I’m collecting images from churches, hospitals and labs and putting them together while I think about this.

CALL FOR ARTISTS

The New Immortals home pageProposals or submissions of work are invited for a curated exhibition, The New Immortals, to take place in 2016 at Phoenix Brighton.

Artists are invited to submit expressions of interest for inclusion in the exhibition, responding to or interpreting the themes outlined in the brief.

E-mail thenewimmortals@gmail.com with enquiries or to arrange a phone appointment if you want to talk about the project. To submit work for consideration please complete The New Immortals submission form at https://thenewimmortals.wufoo.com/forms/zipb0rh0wg5744/

INFORMATION FOR ARTISTS: The New Immortals is a research project exploring man’s quest for immortality, from the historic search for eternal life through spirituality, magic and medicine, to the modern miracles of contemporary biomedical science. We live in an age where scientists can create, manipulate, alter and sustain life to an extent once unimaginable, so could there be a time when indefinite lifespan might become a reality?

  • Author and theoretician on ageing, Aubrey De Grey speculates that the first 1000 year old man may have already been born
  • Renowned gerontologist Tom Kirkwood began his Reith Lecture series in 2001 by saying that we now know that ageing (the greatest cause of death) is “neither inevitable nor necessary”

In 2001 the BBC commissioned a Gallup poll which discovered that nearly 45% of people wanted to live to be 100; but what about a life of 200 years? Or 500? Or 1000? Assuming that science and medicine could “stretch” our middle years to give us a reasonably healthy long life, how would we feel about that? And what difference would super-longevity make to us as individuals and as a society? With life expectancy already almost double what it was 200 years ago, where will it all end?

Bioethicist and philosopher, Professor John Harris says, “…scientific advances could lead to significantly extended life-spans… The development of these technologies may be far in the future, but the moral and social issues raised by them should be discussed now… Scanning future horizons will enable us to choose and prepare for the futures that we want, or arm us against futures that, while undesired, we cannot prevent.”

The New Immortals exhibition will aim to open up some of these issues for further discussion and will be accompanied by a programme of events, discussions and talks.

DOWNLOAD THE BRIEF HERE: The New Immortals_Call for artists full brief